On Saturday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes held an open scrimmage at the Mecca of South Florida HS football: Traz Powell Stadium.
Our Gaby Urrutia was there, as usual, and you can check out his recap on the day here:
I haven’t read Gaby’s piece yet (because I don’t want my reaction to be influenced by what he wrote), but here are my quick takeaways from the day on the field:
- The player who has taken the biggest leap — BY FAR — is RB Cam’Ron Harris (formerly Davis). His quickness and decisive 1-cut running ability were on display all day long. He has improved by leaps and bounds. It would not surprise me at all if he ended up starting at some point this season.
- RB DeeJay Dallas looks improved as well. He was better than Davis so his progressional step forward isn’t as big, but he’s still RB1...for now. And, if Harris steps up into the RB1 role, Dallas should be able to move from RB to FB to slot receiver to wildcat QB, embodying the “offensive weapon” position he was brought here to play.
- True freshman WR Jeremiah Payton, who scored a 45 yard TD on the last play of the scrimmage on a tipped ball, is going to play this year. I don’t think he’s going to break Ahmmon Richards’ freshman receiving record, but he’s too good to stay on the sideline. He’ll play plenty.
- The linebacking quartet of Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney, Zach McCloud, and STRIKER Romeo Finley are very, very good. There’s little to no depth behind them, but the top line players at those positions? Damn good.
- DE Gregory Rousseau is finally healthy and he’s primed for a big role on the DL this year. He not only resembles Calais Campbell physically, he’s STARTING to play like him, as well. Very excited for what he brings to the table this season.
- I tweeted that DT Nesta Jade Silvera is a destroyer of worlds, and I mean that. He’s taken the 2nd biggest step foward, behind only Cam’ron Harris. If he can harness his aggression and focus consistently, watch out.
- To my eye, CB D.J. Ivey has a solid hold on the CB2 job opposite Trajan Bandy. Al Blades Jr. will play a lot — he chased down Mark Pope on a long end-around run — but Ivey has the look of a future all-ACC player.
- S Gurvan Hall is a dude. He was all over the place.
- Offensive line still needs work. Lots of shuffling today, both on the 1st and 2nd teams. Injuries recently in camp have made getting the top group established a difficult task.
- 2nd team defense isn’t good. Of that group, I only counted 2 and a possible guys who will play snaps this season: DE Gregory Rousseau, CB Al Blades Jr., and possibly CB Nigel Bethel (he’ll play on STs, I’m talking base defense). The rest of that unit.....no. Just....no. Depth is SORELY needed on that side of the ball, and the incoming transfers and freshmen are going to need to step up to fill that void.
- If LB Bradley Jennings Jr’s knee injury he sustained today is serious, Miami goes from having precious little depth at LB to having negative depth. Just like I said in the last point, incoming freshmen — wassup, Avery Huff? — are going to have to step up from day 1.
- TE Will Mallory is looking like a solid 1A to Brevin Jordan’s 1 at TE. He’s big, he’s physical, and he’s starting to put it all together. This pleases me.
- KJ Osborn is a savvy veteran who is in control at all times. He’s going to start this year, and Miami is going to be better for it.
- Several WRs — Brian Hightower, Mike Harley, and Jeff Thomas — sat out today’s scrimmage. So did Brevin Jordan. That’s a lot of offensive firepower on the sideline. And I’m sure that had an impact on the scrimmage.
- There were shifts, motions, and misdirection in Miami’s playbook. There were multiple formations. There was varied offensive tempo. And, this is the skeleton of the offensive scheme. Imagine when they have the basics and then start adding real wrinkles. I can assure you of one thing: this offense is NOT the offense Miami was running under Mark Richt.
- The sidelines were PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKED with recruits. I personally saw many top prospects, players like 5-star LB Justin Flowe, 4-star OL Issiah Walker Jr., 4-star TE commit Dominic Mammarelli, 2021 standout CBs Corey Collier and Jason Marshall, and many, many more lining the field at Traz Powell today. There’s work to be done with all of them, but anyone who thought that having the scrimmage at Traz would be a negative from a recruiting standpoint was incorrect. PLENTY of top players were on the sidelines today.
Okay, okay, okay! I know you’ve been waiting to hear my thoughts on the QBs. Here we go.
- I gotta start here: Tate Martell was bad. Really bad. Awful. The stats released by Miami Athletics had him 3-9 for 43 yards and an interception (by DJ Ivey) but it was worse than that. He was rough (at best) with his footwork, struggled to read the defense, and even when he completed balls, they were off target, which inhibited run-after-catch opportunities. Kind of like Mali...nvm
- If this was Martell’s worst day, then he has nowhere to go but up, I guess. If this WASN’T his worst day.....YIKES. Either way, there was exactly 0 that he showed on the day to lead me to believe he stands any chance to be Miami’s QB. Absent a wholesale change reminiscent of invasion of the body snatchers, he won’t start, or play, this year.
- The real QB battle is between N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams. Those 2 were LIGHTYEARS ahead of Martell in terms of running the offense, and their own individual performance on the field. Both players were 9-15 passing, with Perry having 78 yards, and Williams having 135 yards and a TD. Before you look exclusively at stats, I’ll caution you that the last 45 yards and TD on Williams’ line came on the last play of the scrimmage, a ball that should have been intercepted, was tipped instead, and fell into the hands of Jeremiah Payton, who then scored. So yes, the raw numbers look a bit better for Williams, but it wasn’t really clean.
- The same things that I’ve said before ring true about Perry and Williams: Perry has a CANNON for an arm, but still needs to develop touch. He can run well, but didn’t on Saturday. That was by design. But that’s an element of his game that he can go to if needed. Williams is a better technician at QB than Perry. With good-enough arm strength and very good knowledge of the scheme, Williams just looks the part of a big-time QB.
- When walk-on Carson Proctor looks better throwing the ball and running the offense than Tate Martell did..................man, I dunno. I really, seriously, hope that this was just rock-bottom for Martell. But he didn’t do himself any favors today. He was really, REALLY bad.
- The thing with Martell is his running ability, and ability a la Johnny Manziel (I’m talking STYLE OF PLAY only) to take a broken play and turn it into a highlight reel play. But the prerequisite to get to those elements of his game is throwing the ball accurately on “normal plays”. He wasn’t able to do that today. At all. And, with the QBs not being “live”, the run element of his game was taken off the table. And what we were left with wasn’t good, to say the least.
- Spoke to several people today, and the reaction was 50/50 between Perry and Williams on who they want to start for the Canes this year. FOR ME, I’m good with either one. But, this is clearly a 2 QB race, and this position won’t be won until Fall Camp in August.
Those are my thoughts. Share your reactions, or pivot off of what I said to ask some questions, in the comments section below.